Piper (The Swiss Army Knife)

He is 8 months old and every 60 days you will see him mature. Stay with the hold conditioning and he will develop the right habit.

When he drops one at your feet - what does he do then - run off - look at you - want some praise? Some trainers recommend slowly the dog down by having them sit with the antler in their mouth. At 8 months of age we are more concerned about developing the correct habit than setting a course record.

If you have the dog hold the antler in a sit position and then when the dog is incoming and you have them sit you will soon see him nail it.

With Perry I keep both hands behind my knees so he don't see them. I drop my hands down and come up to his mouth to get the antler - he never sees my hands coming. When dog anticipates they can get in a hurry and sort of throw the antler at you because they have forward movement from moving fast.

Scotty likes his nose in the air and holds antlers better when his nose is up. I can take an antler from in an erect standing position most times.

I say in 30 days you will have it solved. June 2nd at Norm Henderson's Farm. Perry, Scotty and I are going.
Training has restarted at the house in hope to get the dogs whipped into shape for their June 2nd hunt test. Oberon has amazing drive when he is focused but wants to please. I am having issues with his hold and delivering to hand but we are working on that. He has an amazing prey drive and I am using that to my advantage. I am working him on the table regular as they do when trainers "force fetch" a dog. I'm just doing it without the stimulus. He's coming around. I'm not worried about him finding the sheds. Just delivering them to my hand. As for Piper she cruises the courses like she's been doing it for a lifetime. Steady and confident is the best way to describe her.

Traveling with two large dogs has presented a challenge for us. I know in the past throwing the dog in the back of a pickup truck or car and going was the way to go. My wife's SUV is out of the question. It's too nice of a car to have dogs in and out of constantly. Especially considering the weather we've ran in on these hunts. Plus it is 2wd and 4wd had come in handy more than once on these tests. We looked into getting a 4wd suburban to travel in but who wants a $900 a month payment? The most economical and practical solution for us was to by a dog box and travel in my truck. Its 4wd, comfortable on long trips and the kids can all sit in the back if we decide to drag them with us. After a little research and a lot of recommendations from people who have them I went with an Owen's dog box. I like the welded aluminum. I really wanted one with the draw underneath but ended up going with a top storage. It has all season vents so the dogs will be comfortable in the summer and warm during the winter. Piper already chose her side. I will keep everyone up to date. Thanks for following

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2019 NASHDA Hunt Test in Carlisle Indiana Update:

Loaded up the dogs at 6am Friday morning in their new dog box. Just so you know there might be a better way to travel with dogs but I won't look for one. Having them and their stuff all in one, safe, secure location is awesome. Made the 11 hour and 640 mile drive to Washington Indiana to stay the night. Along the way we would stop about every 3 hours to water and stretch the dogs. I would randomly hide a shed before I let them out. It's a little game I like to play with them to see if their brain is wired for what I want and sure enough it is. I've have been having trouble with Oberon not retrieving to hand and was really worried that he wouldn't do well. He seemed to get it figured out right in the nic of time. We lost some precious time during the test not retrieving it straight to my hand but eventually he would do it. I kept him from getting 2 passes. He passed the first course with time to spare. Onto the second course I failed to locate the boundary markers properly and pulled him off the last shed he needed to find to get another pass. It was 100% my fault. Onto Piper and her first run in the senior division. There was some confusion about using a yearling shed in the senior class and ended up having to find one on the first course. As always she started out slow but picked up the pace. A lot of that has to do with how slow I work. I don't want to miss any sheds and purposely work an area probably more than I should before moving on. We ended up with 2 passes with with her. Visiting with everyone is probably my favorite part. The friendships made and people you get to meet during these events are all worth the traveling and money spent. I've been kicking myself since I failed Obe on the second course. I forgot he is 5 months younger than Piper was on her first test and I haven't worked nearly as much with him as I should have. When I put it in perspective like that he is an amazing dog with a really bright future. We now have 3 full months until we travel to Tennessee to run in Wayne's hunt test. Until then I will continue to develop Obe's hold and polishing up Piper. Please. If anyone is slightly interested in this or getting into this. Wayne and myself would be more than happy to introduce you to what we know and have learned. Thanks again.

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Congrats on a good Hunt Test. When handlers run enough courses, there will be a goofus somewhere as I know from personal experience. It does make us practice better and mentally we focus our attention better.

Gosh our dogs did a great job in a hot environment with the woods perfectly still at times (zero breeze).

I wish my two dogs were as well behaved on a bed as Piper and Oberon.

I echo what Zach said - anyone that has a dog which you wonder about - get in the game. Plenty of guidance is available from many sources. Labs and other breeds just do a great job at figuring issues out when given a reasonable opportunity.

The participants at Hunt Test are great folks. Another reason to jump in. Readers in the south, Portland, TN Hunt Test on Sept 29th (5 miles south of Kentucky state line) and Olive Branch, MS Hunt Test on Oct 13 & 14 (UKC Event) and Oct 13 (NASHDA Event).

Kentucky Antler Dogs will soon schedule a Hunt Test - they are working now on nailing down their course location.

A very favorable calendar to get a dog settled in to improving their skills. Attending an event is the best way to gain valuable knowledge on training a dog and developing their drive on shed antlers.

Piper and Oberon are two fine looking dogs and have an excellent track record. Zach and Jennifer have done a great job with them.

It's a family affair!!!!!!!

We are loaded up and heading to Portland Tennessee for what I'm calling the start of the fall shed season. Wayne Pruitt and Tennessee Shed Dogs are hosting the event tomorrow Saturday the 28th. Wayne has seen the need to pass it on to the younger generation and is putting on a kid course too!!! Emma & Collin will be running Piper in the event. Oberon is still young and way too much of dog for them to handle. None the less we are all excited about the trip. Stopped off at our traditional stop for some lunch. Anyone wanting to see what it is about I encourage everyone to come out and tag along. You meet some really nice people. We're looking for Obe's 2nd & 3rd Junior pass and Piper's 3rd & 4th senior pass this weekend. We shall see. Updates to follow

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Tennessee was good to us........

Running these hunt tests over the past 10 months we have encountered almost every kind of weather you can imagine. Snow and ice in Kentucky, sloppy rains in Mississippi, flooding rains along with heat and bugs in Indiana. Tennessee was hands down the best weather we have ever had. Cool mornings and solid breeze along with it being slightly damp all combined to make perfect weather for running the dogs.

My hat goes off to Wayne in his maiden event for Tennessee Shed Dogs. He was ambitious it what he wanted to accomplish but I think he pulled it off nicely. We had 11 different states represented this past weekend with a slew of different breeds of all ages. Plus is being at a nice public park gave the kids something to do while they waited.

First out of the gate I was shadowing Wayne to finish up what was required of me to get my judging credentials. Judging is a lot different than handling your dog. None the less I still stressed for the dogs and their handlers. After I got finished placing sheds for the junior course it was off to run Piper on the senior course. For those of you that are unfamiliar with NASHDA rules. A senior class dog has to find 6 sheds within 15 minutes just like the juniors. Only thing different is that the placements and courses are harder along with 1 of the sheds is from a yearling buck and one will be in water. I have finally learned to trust Piper. Her slow but methodical approach is something I've come to appreciate and love. She uses her nose just as good if not better than some of the top dogs. She performed flawlessly on both courses and we passed both with ease. She has yet to let me down and is 10 for 10 in her NASHDA career.

As good as Piper is I'm more impressed with my male Oberon. I started Obe 4 months sooner than I did Piper. He has come a long way in a short amount of time. He was in the kennel most of the day which can lead to some dogs being more interested in playing than hunting. We were on the tail end of the running order meaning he had a lot of foot traffic and scent already lid down before him to try to figure out. Since I had previous planted sheds on the first junior course they were reset for me so I didn't know any of the locations. This was probably the 4th different spot these sheds have been placed that day. He ran the 1st course with precision and with an easy pass. The 2nd course proved to be more of a challenge. Wayne outdid himself on that one. The course was laid out in the shape as a big football leaving a lot of open ground to cover and getting turned around pretty easy making it easy to forget where you had already been. We found 4 sheds right off the bat. It was only by luck that I stumbled upon the 5th. Knowing where it was I sent Obe in another direction to find the 6th. He picked it up in no time. I could of pushed him hard to find the last shed but since we had plenty of time I left it up to him to find on his own purposely leaving him a really long retrieve to finish the day. All in all we walked away with 4 passes on the day. Met a lot of new faces and visited with friends.

Our next hunt test is in north Mississippi at Ed Norys farm in 2 weeks. I'm hoping for 2 passes for Piper to finish her senior title and move into the master class. Obe will need 3 more passes to clear juniors. Please feel free if anyone has any questions to reach out to myself or Wayne.

Thanks for following

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That is a beautiful picture - your dogs are as white as we see and those nice red ribbons look great. Congrats on the 4 passes. My Perry struggled and had his first timed out on Course B. He was placed on the chain line right at daylight and he was tired and hot before we started. He is 5 for 6 now and the plan is to complete his Junior Title at Ed Norys Hunt Test in the Olive Branch, Mississippi.

Scotty has a good day. I was wore out physically from not being able to sleep the night before and told John Ballard, Ronnie Gambrell and Ed Norys I was just here for a pass. So I am going slow, Scotty knows this course better than any man or dog alive. He did his part and really had 3 good meets in a row. Scotty turns 2 years old on Oct 21st. Scotty's track record is 13 out of 16.

Both of my dogs are 2 for 2 with the UKC Events.

The wind on Course B dropped off to nothing when Perry and I were working it.

I want to thank you for completing your Judge walk along here. You will be an outstanding Judge. My first time to Judge and it is the most fun to watch what dogs do especially since we know where the antler is located. I was interested in where and how they got the first whiff of the scent cone. You and I will become smarter because we are judging - if that is possible.

We had 30 dogs from 10 states - the railroad cost me an Oklahoma Dog as my friend was in Texas but not able to be released in time. The dog count by state:
8 Kentucky Dogs 6 Mississippi Dogs 5 Tennessee Dogs 3 Indiana Dogs 2 Ohio Dogs 2 North Carolina Dogs 1 Michigan Dog 1 Missouri Dog 1 Arkansas Dog 1 Kansas Dog.

I believe there are people on this forum that have dogs that would be great at this sport. Please contact Zac or I if you have questions.
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This is so true Wayne. For anyone looking to get into shed hunting with dogs this is an invaluable resource of information. I understand the "competition" side of the sport could be a turn off. I have learned more about my dogs and ways I can improve their performance in the field by going to these competitions. This in return will make for a lot more quality time in the woods while hunting wild sheds and be more rewarding for both me and my dogs. You don't have to have a lab and it doesn't have to be a young dog either. One of the best dogs I've seen competing didn't get started until he was 9 years old. If your dog has a drive to please you it can be learned.

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Traveled to Holly Springs on Friday the 12th to run the Mid-South NASHDA event hosted by Ed Norys. First and foremost my hat goes off to Ed and his crew. To host one of these events takes a lot of time and dedication along with a good bit of money forked out of pocket. Ed's courses are always fun and challenging. This can lead to some slower times people aren't use to running and some dogs timing out. Most of the time it is the handlers fault. I really enjoyed Ed's course layout. I ran Oberon first in the junior division. Leading up to Friday Obe had been to the vet twice with a couple different issues. None of which seemed to slow him down. Obe ran his best courses to date and is only improving getting pass 4 & 5.

After a little rest it was time to run Piper on the senior course. She worked really good on the first course not missing a single shed. We could of got our time down a little but I'm not hung up on fast times like some other folks. The second course proved to be more of a challenge. She hit on a spot 6 different times. For the life of me I couldn't see what she was smelling and she couldn't put her eyes on it as well. I pulled her off and we found 5 well within 10 minutes leaving only one to find. We went back to the spot she hit on a couple different times with the same result. With 45 seconds left I walked as fast as I could to that same spot. Fearing we were about to taste our first time out ever I had almost gave up. Then Piper threw that nose in the air coming in from a completely different direction. I saw it the same time see did. She snatched it up and put it in my had at 14:58!!! Two seconds to spare!!! I was beyond excited for her.

For those that might be thrown off by the competition aspect of shed hunting I encourage you to reconsider. These events are fun and are geared towards making friends and developing a relationship with your dog. Plus I have learned a ton about how to run my dog in different conditions. Yes there will be a couple of shedheads (what I call them) that are snobs and only care about fast times and ribbons. I'm looking for a pass. If we get it done a little quicker that's all the better. They can have their high strung dogs. Every now and then a dog will have his day and put it all together. Just ask Wayne. His dogs are something to watch. Mine and most others are just pets. Piper completed her senior title and will be onto the master division. Obe still has one pass to go for his junior title. Our next test is in early December with the great folks from Bluegrass Shed Dogs in Kentucky. Wish us luck


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For those that have read my thread about Piper, my original goal was for her to be the "Swiss Army Knife" of dogs. She has been an amazing addition to the family. She has great intuition and knows how to make you happy. She has been such on blessing to our house. Sheds, she is rock solid and super consistent. She loves to work and make me happy.

Over the past two years she has achieved 2 out of the 3 goals I set for her. This is the first year my oldest son has shown any interest in hunting. He actually came to me on his own and asked if he could go. The first couple times out we seen plenty of deer but nothing presented a shot. Finally on our 3rd time we had a large group of deer that Collin was able to make a good shot on. His shot was right behind the shoulder right were he was aiming. I guess the deer was quartering a little more forward than I realized or the bullet did something a little weird because the exit came out right by the stomach. We climbed out of the blind and found hair and a little stomach content at the shot sight. Knowing what I know with marginal shots we didn't go any further and backed out. On the way to the house a button buck ran underneath my truck to top it off.

In the meantime I contacted a blood trailing dog. My number one go to guy took a job in Texas and isn't around to track. Around here blood trailing is some people's deer hunting. They'd rather trail deer than hunt themselves. It has gotten very popular so there's a bunch of people who have gotten into it. The hardcore folks like it where the deer is still alive so they can turn their catch dog loose. Plus it's a second source of income during the winter. Still feeling good about the shot I went back and looked at the footage I took and confirmed it was a good shot so I called the handler back since it was going to be a while before he could come and called him off. Wanting see what my dogs would do we loaded them up. It didn't take no time once I dropped the tailgate for them to pick up the shot sight and went right into the woods where she had gone in. The entire time I'm looking for blood and can't find anything. Piper kept her nose working then she stopped and her bristles on her neck stood up and she growled. I seen what she was looking at. That doe didn't go 65 yards in and died. They were both excited about the deer and there were a lot of praise for both dogs. A section of intestine blocked the exit hole leaving for a tough track.

Did I need the dogs? Probably not but I was happy none the less for the what they can accomplish.

We have our next hunt test early December. I dropped Oberon off last night at the same breeder we got Piper from for him to sire his first litter. The breeder has a beautiful female from a good stock of hunting dogs. Up until recently they didn't really care about hunting heritage but more about the confirmation look of these dogs for show. Being here in the South he sees the appeal of having a dog that can do both. Oberon comes from great bloodlines and I'm excited to help Rick out and to see what kind of pups Oberon can sire. I want Piper to complete her master's title before we think about breeding the two. As always thanks for following.

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Great update. My black lab has become a pretty good “deer finding” dog. I’m hesitant to call him a tracker because I don’t think he tracks them...he just runs around like a goof ball and stumbles upon them.
Great job Collin - congrats on your deer harvest.

Good job by those labs. Thanks for posting Zac.

Went on my first "official" track tonight on what was supposedly a high shoulder or spine shot. Deer flipped then crawled away. No blood to be found close. They had already walked the place pretty good. I turned both Piper and Oberon out together. After meeting everyone we got in the woods. Piper working the wind Obe covering ground. Piper finally stopped at a bush and really smelled it over. I went up to it and found BLOOD!!! Shoot yeah!!! We're onto something. Obe got out ahead and went to wagging his tail while dancing around a brown patch. Thinking it was the deer got up close to find a coyote. Funny....I don't remember the guy telling about a coyote being shot too. Called the guy who was back at the shot sight and he confirmed he shot a coyote too. Pissed me off. So I called off my dogs and left. Told him that if he wasn't honest about the coyote why should I believe him about the deer. We loaded up and bugged out. Oh well.

Clarification after reflection a couple days later:

I've had time to process my reaction to the above events. I wanted to clarify for anyone who read this and thought I was a jerk. My dogs are family pets first and foremost. They are not blood trailing dogs. They are shed dogs with amazing noses. They work well together and aim to please me in anything I ask of them. A lot of our property in the area is pine plantations with briar thickets and God knows what else. I was willing to put my dogs through that but not for someone that wasn't 100% honest. I've have a couple of good friends who track everyday during this time of the year and have told me stories of things people have lied to them about to get them to track a deer. People have told them they've shot a monster buck on a WMA and need a dog. Only to find a doe the guy shot (does aren't to be killed on WMA's) with the guy knowing damn well he lied. Vice versa. Had a guy tell him he needed help finding a doe during doe only muzzle loader season only to recover a buck.

I could go on and on about stories and I'm sure some of you could share your own. I will go above and beyond to help anyone but don't lie to me. I am known as a no nonsense guy. I don't start BS so I sure as heck don't take any from anyone. I wanted to set my dog tracking reputation in stone that if you're going to call me and I'm going to risk my dogs you sure as heck better give me all of the information before hand. I will not hesitate (and have urged my tracking friends to do the same) to report someone while tracking if I see one of our game laws have been broken. They may not make sense sometimes but they are the law and our GW need as much support as they can. Rant over
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I didn't even get my last post up and I got a call from a local down the road who said he shot a buck. He said he seen him buckle and run into the woods. Admitting he didn't really know much about hunting or tracking and could really pinpoint where he went in the woods he called a friend for help who gave him my number. It was 10 minutes from the house so I loaded up both dogs to see what we could do.

Upon arrival I questioned him probably harder then I should. Then I explained to him that we're not professionals and my dogs are just starting off and that if he would like to call a real tracker I know a couple people. I told him it's also better for the other dog and will increase his chance of recovery if we don't muck up the track. He felt confident in his shot but couldn't tell me exactly where the deer was. We ended up looking and I found hair but no blood. I told him I wanted to do a 10 yard X 10 yard grid search looking for blood. We took a good 30 minutes and couldn't find anything. I told him I would turn out my dogs and go 50 yards but no further. If I couldn't find blood we would back out and call a tracking dog. The hunter wanted to follow me so I obliged but said told him to put his gun down. If the deer was alive I would dispatch it and didn't want anything happening with my dogs around. Also furthermore he could talk to me but not my dogs. Just ignore them until we found the deer then he could praise them.

30 yards in Oberon picked up the first blood. Piper followed suit and they would leapfrog over each other to the next patch of blood. Blood wasn't great but was enough to see and follow. The wind swirled and Piper threw that nose in the air and took off. Oberon followed. They smelled something and they did their thing. We went about another 100 yards and there he was. I was proud of both of my dogs and happy for the hunter. For dogs that have never been trained on blood I'm an floored.

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Awesome. Good job, pups.

I’m afraid that being in the “tracking” business is going to expose you to people you don’t want to associate with. My suggestion is to stick with friends and family...they will still let you down, but hopefully less than the general public.
That's funny you mentioned that. My wife said the same thing. She doesn't want her dogs to track for anyone we don't know and know well. I'm glad she put her foot down as my phone has been blowing up last night and today. The number one tracker we have in this area and a good friend of mine took a job in Texas and won't be around this season. He dealt with a lot of people and put over 150 deer on the tailgate last season. So moving forward. Unless it is family or close friends in the area my dogs stay at the house. Hopefully this will keep the crazies and me from crossing paths
Awesome. Good job, pups.

I’m afraid that being in the “tracking” business is going to expose you to people you don’t want to associate with. My suggestion is to stick with friends and family...they will still let you down, but hopefully less than the general public.

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In the meantime. My male Oberon is trying to sire his first pups. This is particularly cool since the female happens to be Piper's mother. He was the breeder last week but as timing would have it she peaked this weekend when him and his wife had travel plans. So they are with me. I'm pretty sure he got the job done. Remi will be going home tonight. I know Rick is excited about their pups. I'm interested to see how Oberon acts after this ordeal. Everyone said he will be "different". We will see. Remi is in the smaller kennel on the right.

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Piper & Oberon Update

I had the dogs loaded up and ready to go when the kids got off the bus this past Friday. As it seems to be are tradition right now we stopped in Pelham Alabama at my parents. After a few hours of sleep we woke up to heavy rain. It pretty much stayed with us on the 6 hour drive to Henderson Kentucky. The more we do this the more I'm glad we purchased the dog box we did. With the all season vents the dogs stay dry and warm during this time of year.

We arrived at Sandy Lee Watkins Park around 7am. This was Bluegrass Antler Dogs' second event. After getting the dogs stretched we met up with friends and picked up where we left off. I really feel like this sport is growing. I see and meet new faces everytime we go.

Oberon was up first. Since he failed one of his courses in Indiana (100% my fault) he had to run a split course this event. His first run was on the junior course. It was wet and muddy but he was ready to run. The wind was perfect for him. He nailed the course with his fastest run to date completing his junior title. Onto the senior course. We had to wait a little since there were some other dogs ahead of us. During that time we got soaked by a passing shower. In the Senior Division a dog must find a shed planted in the water and 2 sheds buried under grass along with a couple being in brush. Oberon made another great run and passed his first senior course.

For those that follow along. You will know Piper has been perfect up to this point passing all 12 courses she has ran. She is now in the master division. Meaning one shed is from an elf weighing 5-8lbs, one shed will be in water, one will be from a yearling and the other 3 normal antlers will be well hidden. The major downfall for most of the dogs in the master division is the elk shed. They are a lot larger and heavier than the sheds they are use to finding. Piper has only seen an elk shed once before. Never practicing with one it had me a little nervous, but her drive to please me is off the charts. She ran both courses beautifully. Delivery all 6 sheds to my hand, including the elk sheds, warning herself 2 passes in the master division. As Wayne is with Scotty I can see the end approaching. Four more passes and Piper will be titled out of the NASHDA series.

For anyone even remotely thinking about getting a dog or having their dog find sheds I encourage you to come to an event. We had a guy and his son come all the way from Alabama to watch. They raise whitetail deer and are avid hunters as well. Talking with them it was clear he had the same feelings I did about competitions. I wasn't into them. But I can say these events are geared more towards the family and dogs then any trophy or award. They make you a better handled and push your dogs to overcome certain obstacles and challenges. Please if you are thinking about it. Reach out to myself or Wayne. We can point you in the right direction saving you some time and headaches.


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Congrats on the four passes. Zac has done a super job handling his dogs and training them well.

Look at these pretty labs in the photo above - looks like it is a painted picture. Not all dogs can pose with ribbons attached on their collar without getting them all dirty.

If you want to be a better dog handler, NASHDA Hunt Test will teach you a great deal - as will your dogs.

Congrats to my friends from Mize, MS on your success.

Received a call from family who own and operate an outfitter service in West Alabama. It seemed a hunter shot and wounded a monster buck a couple weeks ago but they were unsuccessful in recovery. The buck was found dead in a food plot last week missing one side of his rack. They asked if I could come over and assist in finding the rack. We hunted hard for 2 days. You would think finding sheds inside a 500 acre fence would be easy, my dogs worked for everyone they found covering a lot of grow in the two days we were there. It wasn't until the last 45 minutes of our hunt did we finally find the needle in the haystack. I was beyond excited. None of the deer inside the enclosure have dropped their sheds yet. Meaning all but one was at least a year old. We did located a nice buck that had been killed due to fighting as well. All in all we had a great time and found 15 sheds in all. It was a great weekend with the dogs and family. This is ultimately what I have trained my dogs for. Just leisurely walking around in the woods letting them do their thing while enjoying the great outdoors.